1. Four and the Same

First Day

Once upon a time there was a fish named Jack. He was a little blue fish who had lived with his mom and dad all his life.
    But when Jack was old enough, his dad told him that it was time for him to go to his first day of Fish School. He said that all fish went to school when they were his age.
    “Are you and Mom coming with me?” Jack asked.
    “Your mom and I have already gone to Fish School,” his dad said. “You’ll be going there all by yourself. You’ll learn everything you need to know about how to be a fish and you’ll get to meet lots of other fish from all around the ocean.”
    Jack was worried. He had hardly ever been away from his parents. What would it be like going somewhere without them?
    But when Jack went to his first day of Fish School, he found that it was not so bad. His parents were not there, but he learned about being a fish and met lots of other fish just like his dad had said he would.
    Then, on his very first day at school, something happened that surprised Jack.
    Ever since he had been a baby fish, Jack had thought there were two colors of fish: blue and pink. After all, he and his dad were blue and his mom was pink. But at Fish School, there were fish who were different colors! There were boy fish who were green and girl fish who were yellow.
    Sometimes the blue and pink fish would be nice to the other fish, but other times they would not be so nice. He even heard a blue fish call a green fish named Darren Ugly-Scales. That was a very mean thing to say to a fish.
    Jack went home after school and decided to talk to his mom about what had happened.
    “Hi, Jack, how was your first day at Fish School?” his mom said.
    “It was good,” Jack said. “But something strange happened.”
    “What was that?” his mom asked.
    “There were fish who were different colors at school. There were boy fish who were green and girl fish who were yellow. Some of the blue and pink fish kept calling them Ugly-Scales.”
    “What did you say to them?” his mom asked.
    “I didn’t talk to them at all,” Jack said.
    “How do you think you should act around them?” she asked.
    “I don’t know,” Jack said. “What should you do if other fish are different from you?”
    “They may be different colors, but mostly they’re not so different,” his mom said.
    “They’re not?” Jack asked.
    “Well, do you think fish with different scales have a mom and dad just like you?” She pointed to herself with her fin.
    “Yes.”
    “Do you think they hatched from an egg just like you?” she asked. She waved her fins like she was breaking open an egg.
    “Yes.”
    “Do you think they feel things just like you? Do you think they laugh and cry just like you?” Jack’s mom tickled him. Jack laughed.
    “Yes.”
    “So they’re not that different from you, are they?” his mom asked.
    “No, I guess not,” Jack said. “We may have different scales, but mostly we’re just the same.”
    “And if you’re just the same, do you think you should treat them just the same?”
    “Yes,” Jack said.
    “Don’t you forget it,” his mom said.

Second Day

    Jack learned a lot in his first day at Fish School. He was smarter, he was older, and he had made lots of friends. Now Jack was excited for his second day of school.
    But on Jack’s second day, he saw that the fish were treating each other differently. The boy fish were being mean to the girl fish and the girl fish were mean right back. He even heard a boy fish call a girl fish named Lauren Small-Fin. That was another very mean thing to say to a fish.
    Jack did not know what to do. When he went home, he decided to talk to his dad about it.
    “Hi, Dad,” Jack said when he was all done with his second day.
    “Hi, Jack,” his dad said. “How was school?”
    “It was good. But something strange happened,” Jack said. “The boy and girl fish were being mean to each other.”
    “Do you think it’s okay to be mean to girl fish?” his dad asked.
    “I’m not sure,” Jack said. “I suppose they’re a bit different from boy fish. They’re smaller and they’re different colors.”
    “Well, Jack, do you think girl fish have a mom and dad just like you?” his dad asked.
    “Yes.”
    “Do you think they hatched from an egg just like you?” he asked.
    “Yes.”
    “Do you think they feel things just like you? Do you think they laugh and cry just like you?”
    “Yes.”
    “So they’re not so different, are they?” his dad asked.
    “No, I guess not,” Jack said. “We may have a few differences, but mostly we’re the same. I should be nice to girl fish, just like I’m nice to boy fish.”
    “Don’t you forget it,” his dad said.

Third Day

    Jack was excited to go back to Fish School for his third day. He had learned a lot in his first two days and was eager to learn more!
    But on his third day at school, Jack saw something he did not expect. He was used to fish being different colors now, but one of the new fish had scales that were all different colors, like a rainbow! The other fish liked to call him Short-Tail. That was just as bad as calling a fish Ugly-Scales or Small-Fin.
    Jack decided he was going to stick up for the rainbow fish. He swam over to where the bully and the rainbow fish were talking.
    “You’re really ugly, Short-Tail,” the bully said.
    “I think his scales are cool,” Jack said. “You shouldn’t be so mean to fish just because they’re a little different from you.”
    The bully was so surprised that he did not say anything else.
    When the bully went away, the rainbow fish spoke to Jack. “Thank you,” he said. “That was very nice of you.”
    “What’s your name?” Jack asked.
    “Trent,” the rainbow fish said.
    And just like that, Jack and Trent became friends.
    When Jack went home, his mom and dad were both waiting for him.
    “Hi Jack, how was school?” his mom asked.
    “It was good,” Jack said. “But something strange happened.”
    “What was that?” his dad asked.
    “There was a fish with rainbow scales at school who I’ve never seen before.” Jack said. “Another fish was being mean to him.”
    “What did you do?” his mom asked.
    “I told the bully he shouldn’t be so mean,” Jack said. “After all, the rainbow fish has a mom and dad just like me. He hatched from an egg, he has feelings, and he laughs and cries just like me. He may have different scales, but mostly we’re the same. I think I should treat him how I want to be treated.”
    Jack’s parents were proud of him.

Fourth Day

    The next day, Jack went back to Fish School and talked to all of the fish he had seen being bullied in his last three days of school: Darren, Lauren, and Trent. He introduced them to one another, and all four of them became friends.
    From then on, whenever Jack and his friends were picked on for being different, they would all stand up for each other. They would not let the other fish bully them or say mean things to them because they knew the truth.
    They were four and the same.

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

-Martin Luther King Jr.